Optional page text here. Joshua Cole Sr.

Joshua Cole Sr.


(submitted by James Barry Morgan (great-great-grandson of Joshua Cole Sr.)

Joshua Cole Sr. was born at Pointe Maigre, Avoyelles Parish on September 16, 1833 , the fourth child of James Cole and Elizabeth Robert, longtime natives of the same parish. The Cole family had been in the area since the early 1800’s settling in the areas of Pointe Maigre, Cole’s Island (a high area of ground east of Effie), and later in and around Centerpoint. In February 1864, Joshua’s family included his wife, Jane Elizabeth Miller who he had married on May 8th, 1856 in Rapides Parish, and three children; Mary Elizabeth, Joshua Jr. and John David. Jane was four months pregnant with another son, James Washington who would be born in July. Thirty-year old Joshua stood 5 feet 8 inches tall, was light complexioned, and had brown eyes and black hair. He supported his family by farming north of the Red River in Avoyelles Parish but as noted in the 1860 Louisiana census he was not a large property holder and owned no slaves.

His Civil War experience began on February 21, 1864, at Fort De Russy , near Marksville, Louisiana, when he enlisted for a three year tour as a private in the 18th Texas Infantry Regiment, assigned to Company H. Joshua’s enlistment records indicate he was enrolled by Colonel Wilburn H. King, commander of the regiment. The 18th Texas, also known as Ochiltree’s Regiment, was attached to Walker’s Division of General Richard Taylor’s Army fighting in the Trans-Mississippi theatre . Walker’s Division had been in winter quarters at Marksville since late 1863. Fort De Russy had been constructed that year by General Lewis De Russy, fell to the U.S. forces in May and was later retaken by the Confederates.

Enlisting in Co. H of the 18th Texas on February 21, 1864, along with Joshua Cole were D.B. (Daniel Boone) Miller, and E.R. Willson , also natives of Avoyelles Parish. J.B. Beauboeuf, another Avoyelles native, joined them in Co. H, but his enlistment date is unknown. In early March 1864, shortly after Joshua’s enlistment, General Banks and his U.S. forces had left New Orleans headed toward Central Louisiana, the beginning of Banks’ infamous Red River Campaign of 1864. The Muster Roll of the 18th Texas for January and February of 1864 shows Joshua gone on an official four-day pass. He does not appear on subsequent Muster Rolls of the regiment.

As General Banks’ army marched northwest toward central Louisiana, Taylor left several hundred men from various units at Fort De Russy and retreated to Alexandria . A portion of the small garrison left behind to defend the fort was from Co. H of the 18th Texas. On March 14th, A. J. Smith and his U.S. troops (Mower’s) attacked Fort De Russy from the land side, the most vulnerable point, while Porter’s fleet waited downstream out of range of Fort De Russy’s guns. After a short battle, the Federal troops overwhelmed and captured the small garrison, including twenty-three members of Company H of the 18th Texas . Joshua Cole was not listed among them and his military records do not indicate he was taken prisoner at any time during his service with the unit. Since Joshua was not shown on the official list of prisoners of war captured at Fort de Russy, it is likely that he had been among those of Walker’s Division who had retreated upriver toward Alexandria as Banks and A.J. Smith approached the fort. Additional records have not been found to define Joshua’s involvement with the 18th Texas subsequent to February 1864.

Other military records indicate that two months later, on April 25, 1864, Joshua enlisted in the United States forces at Alexandria, Louisiana, and was posted to Company C of the 1st Regiment, Louisiana Volunteer Cavalry Scouts. His enlistment period was for action in West Louisiana and East Texas. Joshua was not paid a bounty to enlist.

Enlisting with him in the Volunteer Cavalry Scouts were John Cole (Joshua’s brother), Isaac M. Miller and Robert Reed , all from Rapides and Avoyelles Parishes.

Unit records show that he was present for duty in that unit on the Company Muster Roll for May and June 1864 and on the Company Muster-out Roll of November 1864 in New Orleans. He was mustered out with his unit and given an honorable discharge in New Orleans, Louisiana on November 12, 1864 . His pension records show him sick with jaundice in the Marine hospital in New Orleans for a month prior to his discharge.

Family history does not include information to indicate why Joshua served with both the Confederate and Union armies during the war. It would be pure speculation on the part of the author to presume to understand emotions or loyalties driving Joshua to the decisions that he ultimately made. Suffice it to say in lieu of a long lost family manuscript or letter from Joshua surfacing at some date, it is highly unlikely we will ever know the reasons for his dual service.

Martin Cole, one of Joshua’s brothers, served with Co. H of the 26th Louisiana Infantry in the Confederate Army from 1861 to 1865 and was present with that unit when it surrendered near Mansfield at the war’s end . Martin is shown on the 1865 Civil War Tax Rolls of Louisiana as paying $0.90 in taxes . Joshua Cole, Robert Reed, and Isaac M. Miller are not shown on the tax rolls.

Five additional children were born to Joshua and Jane after the war. Chronological birth dates for all nine children are Mary Elizabeth born August 9th, 1857, Joshua Jr. born August 25th, 1859, John David born November 5th, 1861, James Washington born July 14th, 1864, Jay Sintha Jane born March 4th, 1867, Samuel Lafayette born October 8th, 1869, Georgie Eller Josephine born February 29th, 1874, Minerva Iona born January 20th, 1877, and Catherine Odilia born April 4th, 1882.

Bonding by more than the camaraderie of war occurred with the Cole, Reed and Miller families. Elizabeth Cole married Isaac M. Miller and Joshua Cole Jr. married Margaret Angeline Reed, daughter of Robert Reed. Descendants of all three families are abundant today in Avoyelles and Rapides Parishes. Joshua Sr., Joshua Jr. and Isaac M. Miller are buried with their wives in the Cole Cemetery on Tyler Cemetery Road, north of Centerpoint, Louisiana.

Joshua Cole Sr. applied for an Invalid Pension from the U.S. Government on August 15, 1891. The pension of $12.00 per month was approved based on his service with the Louisiana Volunteer Cavalry Scouts . This amount was increased to $15.00 per month on March 14, 1907 and to $20.00 per month on September 29, 1908. His pension continued until his death on January 11, 1911, at his son-in-law’s home near Effie, Louisiana . In a deposition to the Bureau of Pensions concerning Joshua’s death, Isaac M. Miller stated that he was present at the time of death and that the attending physician indicated the cause of death to be bronchial pneumonia.

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